A while back a Catholic Priest contacted me through the original incarnation of Aussielicious via email and since then we’ve had a bit of an ongoing dialog about sexuality, religion and life in general. Father X is in his 50’s. He was kind enough to agree to do this interview for us.
How do you reconcile your loyalty to the Catholic Church with your sexuality and their stance on homosexuality?
In a sense, there’s nothing to reconcile. Being homosexual is not a choice [for most people]; being straight is also not a choice; it’s how we are as people. And God, I believe is a God of love, hence love is capable in all people. God loves all people. What the Church [and most people] would not want are abusive relationships, which happen in all sectors of society. We have a responsibility to be people of love, people who have and show respect for ourselves and others. As for how that love is expressed … be it sexually or otherwise, that will change over the years – and has changed. As we as a human race grow in our understanding of the world, then so will our morals and behaviour. The human ovum was not discovered until 1827 – less than 200 years ago, science discovered how babies came about! Science previously had said things like, “If a man has too much sex, he can turn into a woman.” Though several men tried, none were successful. We look back at that now and can laugh – our behaviour has changed, but the value of love and respect remains.
When you first broke your vow of abstinence, did you feel any guilt about it?
The “Catholic guilt” for some is a reality … when I first stole something, when I was seven years old, I thought a bolt of lighting would strike me down. The God of the Jesus [as shown in the Gospels] is a God of love, healing and peace. A total absence of guilt is not a good thing – similarly, the inability to feel physical pain is not a good thing. What must be asked is whether the guilt is reasonable or based on “superstition” or false morality.
Would you agree that it’s not a natural human state to be celibate?
Many people choose to be celibate – some are celibate, but not by choice! Many choose to marry or have other types of intimate relationships. A natural human state is to be intimate – which bespeaks love. Some love is celibate; most is not. Being celibate is certainly not for everyone. But it is not unnatural – and there is no connection with celibacy and pedophilia. Most pedophiles are in married situations.
Do you think younger generations are becoming more and more sceptical about organised religion?
Yes – especially after corruption and sexual abuse allegations and revelations. However, the traditional organized religions are being replaced, alas, by some fundamentalist sects. True religion allows freedom. I can understand young people branching away from organized religion.
How does a gay priest go about having sexual contact?
Like a porcupine having sex – very carefully. Some, no doubt, would go to bath houses and the like. No doubt this can be an attempt to satisfy a physical urge. However, as with everyone, intimacy and love are what we all seek. And not all sexual contacts provide intimacy or love.
With a presumably thorough knowledge of the bible, what does it really say about homosexuality?
This is a complex questions, and certainly not simplistic as some fundamentalists would try to have us believe. One such preacher quoted the gospel to a gay young man, “If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off.” The New Testament also tells women to be quiet in church and to cover their heads! Ridiculous to literally apply what was said in a totally different culture 2000 years ago to the modern world. What is said is against abusive or manipulative or demeaning others. Certainly the Bible speaks against “unnatural” acts. Spilling of a man’s “seed” was seen as unnatural – of course this was well before the human ovum was discovered. Didn’t science once believe that masturbation could send you blind?! The value behind what is in the Bible remains true – our sexuality is for others, not just for our own hedonistic pleasure. There is more to life than hedonistic pleasure – more to life than being doped out and dancing with a chair or treating another person as a sexual object. Homosexuality is not yet understood by the sciences. The Bible must be read in that light, trying to see the values that lie beneath it – values that are worthwhile.
In your adulthood you’ve seen homosexuality go from being illegal to relatively celebrated with things like Pride marches and Mardi Gras. Do you think we’ll ever see true equality?
As equal as the rich and the poor. As equal as the United States ’ law and the Geneva Convention on torture. As equal as AIDS is treated in Africa and the United States. As fair as the elections are in totalitarian nations. The law changes are excellent. The sexual discrimination Acts are excellent. Changing peoples’ attitudes – that’s different and is taking years. But we are people of hope.